Friday, April 05, 2013

This is Home, Part 9 - Missouri spring, spring rains, a Rainy Day, lightning makes a call, tornados, when the wind is green

This is part 9 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

In the section on tornados, she refers to one that hit Moberly. The actual date for the tornado strike was July 4, 1995 (which matches what she said, a year or two before 1997, on the 4th of July).

Missouri spring

The whole year was interesting back home because there was always something to look forward to with each season. In spring everything was new and growing. The grass, the flowers, the baby animals. The spring showers really did make the grass and flowers grow, just like the song says. The lilacs bloomed and the next month the roses. The bridal wreath bloomed. It looked like a big snowball with all the white blossoms all over the branches and the fact that the branches all drooped.

Mom had made two flower beds -- one large rectangular one and one large round one. They were near to the honeysuckle on the end of the little porch, but nearer the three cedar trees. They could be seen from the road. She planted different kinds of flowers so they always looked beautiful.

Mom had a knack with flowers and with everything else she tried. She had different kinds of house plants inside. My favorite was the Boston fern.

I loved the old washing machine that she had taken everything off of and painted red. It was made of wood. She planted different kinds of moss in it. Some of the flowers were double. It set in the front yard near the well and between two cement walks.

You haven't lived until you have experienced a Missouri thunderstorm. The crack of the thunder is so loud it sounds like a tree trunk is being split in two right beside you.

I used to be afraid of it when I was little. The North bedroom felt very far away from the kitchen where Mom was working. I ran and jumped in Charley's bed and pulled the covers over my head.

But afterwards, there was a wonderful smell of freshness outside and a beautiful rainbow. Mom said the rainbow showed that God remembered his promise to never again destroy the Earth with water.

She looked forward to the birds coming back again. The wren, the blue bird, the robin, and the cardinal. She thought they made things cheerful. They didn't really stay around the yard much. Sometimes, one would sit on the fence in the back yard for a few minutes.

The wren seemed to get busy building her nest. We would see her fly by with something in her bill for the nest.

Anyway, we had the woods just above the Missouri henhouse.

Mom used to take us to the woods sometimes. We had picnics there and Mom used to make sounds like the different birds. They would answer and fly to a nearby tree. She could even sound like the whippoorwills and bob-o-links. They would also answer and fly to a tree near us.

One time when we were there, we watched a beaver (maybe two) build a dam across a little body of water. About the size of an ordinary ditch, only wider (Stephen said it sounded like a ravine).

Sometimes we found wildflowers. Mom knew the name of each flower.

Across the road in the hogs' upper pasture just inside the fence were berries to pick at the proper time. What I really found interesting there was the mimosa, or shame briar as it was called. It had long leaves similar to a fern. If you ran a finger along the middle of the leaf, the sides of it folded together.

I loved the dandelions when they came out. When I was small, I was sure I would find an elf sitting on one someday. After all, they are the color of gold.

I looked for four leaf clovers, too.

I also used to try to dig to China. I was just sure I would find their upside down feet on the other side of the world.

Spring rains

Often, spring rains caused the East Fork to flood and we couldn't go to school. Jean and I were just delighted if we woke up and found it had been raining all night. We knew we probably were staying home. Unfortunately, the teacher made us make up any work that we missed.

A Rainy Day

Charley used to tease me in grade school and it made me so mad. He used to say, "Well, tomorrow is Thursday," then he would grin, "unless it rains. Then it is a rainy day."

I used to argue, "You can't do that -- what happens to Thursday?" but he just grinned and repeated that it would be a rainy day if it rained. This wasn't only Thursday; it could be any day.

One time when high school got out for the year, it immediately started raining and rained steadily for a week. Martha Riley (my best friend) and I had really been looking forward to all the things we would have fun doing. Instead, we were stuck in the house writing each other complaining letters.

If Daddy had put any of the crops out when there was a rain like this, he worried that it would be ruined or washed away. If he hadn't put the crop out yet, he worried that it was getting late in the season.

Lightning makes a call

The fiercest storms at home are in the spring. I don't know if the following happened in the spring or not, but it sounds like it.

I used to like to explore upstairs in the house. I found interesting things. One time I showed Mom an old fashioned telephone I found. She said there used to be a party phone line through the neighborhood.

She said when Daddy came home from work in the evening, he used to call a neighbor and all the other neighbors would answer also, and everyone would laugh and talk to each other.

Then they had a really bad storm. The lightning ran in on the phone lines and tore our phone off the wall and slammed it across the room. After that, Daddy didn't get his phone and lines fixed and no one else wanted a phone either. If anyone wanted to make a call, they went to the switchboard at Darksville.

When I was pretty small, Daddy had someone add several lightning rods to the house.


In all the time we lived on the farms, there were no tornados. But the grade school gave instructions each year about what to do in case of one. They said stay away from trees, lie in a ditch if there is no water (fat chance!) or lie flat on the ground face down. Always protect the head. If home, get in the middle of the house in a doorway or in a cellar or basement, if there is one.

Charley said he had seen a tornado. He said it drove a piece of straw into a tree.

A tornado finally struck the area. The second farm that Mom sold in November 1966 when she moved out here was three miles east of Moberly where I went to college. About a year or two before David and I went back in 1997, a tornado came in from the east, demolished Mom's used-to-be farm house and tore up a lot of the town of Moberly. This was on the 4th of July.

When the wind is green

We had a very strong wind one time. I haven't seen anything like it since. I looked at the horizon out front and there was a pale green color all along just above it. I pointed it out to Mom and asked why the sky was that color. Mom said it was wind.

Then she said "Help me open the doors and windows." We propped the doors open and raised the windows.

We weren't quite through when the wind started blowing through the house. Mom said to stay out of it and against the wall. It was over in a short time.

At this time, I was probably close to high school age.

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